The FCC could start posting more information about political ads online


A parody political ad about the role money plays in politics. (via YouTube)

The Federal Communications Commission announced Thursday it’s seeking comment over a proposal to expand what kind of political ads are required to post their contracts online.

Currently, only political ads on broadcast television are required to do that. These contracts include information on where and when the ads aired and how much they cost, and since April 2012, more than half a million of them have been uploaded, according to the FCC. Other contracts are that are public but not available online include those for radio stations and cable and satellite providers, which can only be obtained physically at the providers’ offices.

The FCC’s consideration comes after a petition was filed July 31 by the Sunlight Foundation, Campaign Legal Center, and Common Cause seeking the expansion of what’s available online.

“Requiring cable and satellite systems to upload their public and political files to the online database will provide a consistent, simple, and transparent way for the public to access disclosure records and to learn about who is spending how much money at which stations, no matter what medium is chosen,” the petition read.

The amount spent on local cable television ads has grown from $340 million during the 2008 election cycle to $625 million in the 2012 election cycle, the petition noted, and it’s expected to be as high as $800 million in the 2014 election cycle.

“Many [Super PACs] and similar committee groups have purchased significant political advertising time on cable systems,” the petition read. “Furthermore, due to advances in technology, major satellite television providers have  recently teamed up to sell household-specific ‘addressable advertising.’ With the ability to ‘finely hone their TV pitches to individuals,’ advertising campaigns are very interested.”

Comments for the proposal will be open until August 28.

Hunter Schwarz covers the intersection of politics and pop culture for the Washington Post
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